Early Oregon Coast Storm Creates Wild Wave Moments
(Oregon Coast) – The first sizable storm of the season hit the Oregon coast a little early Monday, with big swells and wind gusts reaching up to 50 mph in some spots. These stormy conditions, mixed with large waves generated by a typhoon near Japan on September 21, resulted in some extraordinary swells along the beaches (above: photo Seside Aquarium)..
Kirsten Olson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, said there were 18 to 20-foot swells on Monday, but the coast experienced 20-foot to 22-foot swells on Tuesday.
All this meant sneaker waves were a lot more dangerous and sneaky. This in turn created some wild sights in Seaside Tuesday, as some waves shot past the usual distant tide line and came up to the Turnaround.
Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium documented this rather rare sight (photo above Seaside Aquarium).
“A few waves went rogue today, as they snaked their way a 100 feet past the tide line, hitting the Seaside Turnaround,” Boothe said.
Forecasters knew something was coming, Elson said, a combination of various things.
Mostly two main elements went into these swells. The first was storm-force winds that were found on the coast that day. These made waves higher in general.
“There were really two groups of things that contributed,” Elson said. “The second group was something generated out in the Pacific.”
That something, according to U.S. Coast Guard warnings, was the typhoon in Japan last week. Those waves took a few days to reach the Oregon coast.
High tides actually had nothing to do with it this time, which is usually what helps generate such conditions.
In essence, the rogue wave event came down to big winds and big swells combining to make one bigger wave.
Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said he saw plenty of people playing on the beach at Seaside – and they probably shouldn't have been.
“I saw people scrambling and getting hit by big waves all the time,” Chandler said. “They were lucky. Seaside's beach is pretty forgiving.. If this was a shorter beach, like Newport or Lincoln City, where there are those cliffs behind you, you'd be in trouble.”
Boothe added a few words of warning for conditions like these.
“Beware of the surf,” she said. “If you find that the surf is receding farther than normal you may want to travel a little further up the beach. Abnormal receding surf can be a warning sign that a larger wave is about to come in.”
It's quite likely these events have already resulted in some beach erosion. You may want to check out some areas for a suddenly different look, like Arch Cape or Hug Point near Cannon Beach, Oceanside, the boulders beneath Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City, and other places where sand has been covering things up this past season.
Big waves at Devil's Churn near Yachats
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